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Thursday, 27 March 1941

Senator McLEAY (South Australia) (Postmaster-General) . - I regret that under privilege Senator Keane took the opportunity to criticize the judges of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.

Senator Keane - I will say outside Parliament what I have said in the Senate this morning.

Senator McLEAY - The Government is committed to the principle of industrial conciliation and arbitration. Senator Keane referred to the action of the Government in granting the special war allowance of 6s. a week to 60,000 men engaged in war industries. The important feature of that policy is that those men were conscripted into industry to do a certain job. I am convinced that the honorable senator has taken the opportunity to ventilate this subject in the Senate in order to make political capital of it, because he resents the criticism levelled at him and his party colleagues by extremists and agitators who are not playing the game. The Government stands for conciliation and arbitration as does the Labour party. Therefore in this period of our history the honorable senator should not criticize the court; instead, he should criticize the agitators who are trying to influence working men to take certain action because Arbitration Court awards do not suit them. At the present time the workers of Australia are enjoying better conditions than those in any other country. It is ridiculous for Senator Keane to suggest that the Government shoulduse the National Security Act to increase wages over the rates provided in Arbitration Court awards. If the financial position of the country would permit, I suggest that any increase granted should be made to those men who are taking their lives in their hands so as to protect the people of Australia. I repeat that the Government stands for conciliation and arbitration and. adheres to the decisions of the court. I object strongly to the speech made by Senator keane.

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