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Thursday, 5 March 1942

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon J Cunningham (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Order! The Leader of the Opposition connected his remarks with the' motion for the disallowance of regulation 27B.

Senator COLLINGS - I am glad to have that assurance, but I considered that his reference to the waterside workers could not, by any suggestion of expediency, have been related to regulation 27b, which deals with coal-miners. Apparently the Leader of the Opposition took legal advice on this subject, but he came here very ill prepared. In order that there may be no misapprehension about the subject of this debate, I shall road regulation 27b, which is as follows : - 27b. - ( 1.) When a coal mine is open for the purpose of its operation in the manner in which it is usually operated and the duly constituted committee of management of any organization of employees in the coal-mining industry has directed, instructed, counselled or otherwise advised the members of the organization, who are, or were, prior to the giving of the direction, instruction, counsel or advice, actually or usually employed at the coal mine, to work at the coal mine, any person who is or was so employed shall not, without reasonable excuse (proof whereof shall lie upon him), refuse or fail to attend for work at the coal mine at the customary place and at the customary times or to work at the coal mine during the hours for which he is required or for which it is usual for employees of his classification, to work at the coal mine. (2.) If any person commits a contravention of the provisions of the last preceding subregulation then, in addition to any penalty which may be imposed on him in respect of that contravention, the duly constitutedcommitteeof management of any organization to which he belongs may expel him from membership of the organization.

Senator Sampson - What is wrong with "shall expel", instead of " may expel " ?

Senator COLLINGS - If the honorable senator will move an amendment to the regulation in order to substitute the word " shall " for the word " may ", he will not be without support in this chamber. I am giving the honorable senator a chance to prove his worth and stand up to his challenge.

I ask the Leader of the Opposition what he objects to in regulation 27b. He did not tell us. In his wordy ramblings he spoke of other regulations, and told us what had not been done and what ought to be done, but he did not state what portion of regulation 27b he opposed. What would happen if this motion were agreed to in the Senate? Nothing whatever would happen, except that regulation 27B would be no longer in operation, provided that the disallowance could be carried in the House of Representatives.

Senator McBride - If a regulation be disallowed by one branch of the legislature, it ceases to operate.

Senator COLLINGS - The honorable senator knows what we could do if the motion were carried. I know that the honorable gentleman is a compendium of wisdom, but I have some knowledge, and I am expressing as much as I have. All that would happen would be that the power conferred by this regulation on the organization of the coal-miners, with its pains and penalties, would be no longer in existence. Is that what honorable senators opposite want?

Senator McBride - Exactly.

Senator COLLINGS - Then it is the first time in the history of this country that Ihave seen a body of gentlemen, constituted as the Opposition is constituted, uphold itself as a champion for the removal of restrictions imposed upon people whom we on this side of the chamber represent. The parties, to which honorable senators opposite belong have, down the ages, sought to clamp down regulations on the workers, and only to the extent that the Labour party has had power has it been possible to prevent them from carrying all ot their vicious designs into practice. Let us ask ourselves what regulation 27n seeks to accomplish.. It seeks to accomplish, a most desirable thing - >a greater and more continuous production of coal. To the degree that the Primo Minister has used his influence with the miners, he has .been so successful that I am able to declare to the Senate and to the people of this country that the greatest output of coal in the history of coal-mining in Australia has been achieved this year.

Senator McBride - Over what period?

Senator COLLINGS - For the whole period of the war. This year we have had the greatest production of coal and the greatest continuity of production. Why have we clamped down ' heavily on all those industries that are unnecessarily consuming coal? Why have we 'asked motorists to fix producer-gas unite to their oars? Why has the Government taken a lead in this matter by providing as many producer-gas units as possible for departmental cars? The answer is that the use of petrol, where its use can be avoided, operates against the war effort. The Opposition asks that this regulation be disallowed, although that would mean that the Government would have less control over the coal industry, and then would be a return to the bad old days when - there was little control except the capitalist rule of " work or starve ".

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