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Thursday, 5 March 1942

Senator FOLL (Queensland) .- At the outset of this debate I intended to support, the motion submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay), but, after listening to the discussion and giving the matter further consideration, I have decided to oppose it. I consider that clause 1 of regulation 27b departs from a very good principle, in that it has handed over a great measure of control to a management committee. However, I should be sorry to see the regulation go out of existence, because it gives power to the executive of the federation to take drastic action against any of its members who are not prepared to carry on with the production of coal in this time of national danger. I am hopeful that, as the result of the frequent conferences that have been held between representatives of successive governments and the leaders of the Miners Federation, there will be more peace in the industry in future than there has been up to the present. Senator McBride said that, in his view, approximately 99 per cent, of the men engaged in the coal-mining industry -were loyal and anxious to work, and that the remainder were often anxious to cause trouble. I do not accept those figures, but I believe that a small minority of miners has-been responsible for most of the disputes that have occurred. I believe the same to be true of the disputes that have occurred in other industries. I am prepared to allow this regulation to remain in force for a little longer in order to see whether the management committees will take strong action to deal with those men whose only purpose is to reduce production. I am willing to give the federation a little more opportunity to expel those members. If, as the result of the additional concessions that have undoubtedly been given by the Government to the federation, these trouble makers are not expelled, I shall be prepared to take any action in this chamber that is within my power to bring the organization to heel. The leaders of the federation have given assurances to the Government, and we must accept those assurances-. We should give this regulation a further trial in order to see whether the committees of management will make full use of the powers conferred upon them in order to maintain peace in the industry and continued production.

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